In the 1890s Renoir had developed a very intimate style of portraiture that was well suited to portraying the family members, friends and neighbours he asked to pose for him. According to François Daulte, the sitter for this work was Renoir's maid Lucienne, who worked at Les Collettes from 1918 until the artist's death.
As Barbara E. White has observed, these works are 'intimate studies in which the visible strokes create a lively snapshot effect. Renoir treated his figures as models in active scenes; these are not meant to be revealing character studies. Consequently, he blurred the distinction between making a portrait of someone and using that person as a model' (Impressionists Side by Side, New York, 1966, p. 91).
Thus Portrait de Lucienne can be seen less as a portrait of a specific figure and more an image of freshness, youth and charm reflecting the artist's interest in form and colour. The figure was now secondary to his personal artistic experiences and, as he declared, the model was 'only there to set me going, to permit me to dare things I should never have thought of inventing without her, and to put me on my feet again if I should venture too far' (quoted in W. Gaunt, Renoir, Oxford, 1982, p. 120).